The City Diary

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Still shell-shocked from Barratt’s last Glorious Twelfth

One wonders whether Barratt's problems have prompted founder Sir Lawrie Barratt – the dogged knight from Newcastle who counts Maggie Thatcher as a pal – to boost his private coffers with an increase in the frequency of shooting on his 4,500-acre Farndale Estate in the North York Moors National Park.

The six-mile-long dale is currently "filled to the brim" with pheasants and partridges ready for the opening of the shooting season on the Glorious Twelfth of next month. Residents are preparing for a repeat of last season's disruption when shooting parties in convoys of four-wheel drives were out nearly every day of the week. "Farndale is a nature reserve in the middle of a national park – and yet every day the people who live here are subjected to a racket resembling the Battle of the Somme," said one.

What a difference a year makes to the best-laid equity plans

Further evidence, if any were needed, that the tightening debt markets have altered the terms of private equity-type deals. Tim Levy, chief executive of Future Capital Partners, tells Diary that his original plan for two plants in Grimsby and Teesside to convert wheat into bioethanol was to raise 60 per cent of the £320m cost through debt. These plans were made last August, however, and Mr Levy says that the maximum debt level is now likely to be closer to 50 per cent, meaning a sharp rise in the equity that Future will have to invest.

Not what you’d call a light holiday read

HSBC was pilloried last year for publishing an annual report that came in at 463 pages. But that's small fry compared to the weighty tome to be published on Equitable Life next week. Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham's report into the Government's handling of the fiasco is set to recommend the payout of billions of pounds worth of compensation to people who lost cash during the debacle.

And the number of pages? More than 2,000.

Who needs a man if you’ve got money?

It seems that sisters really are doing it for themselves if a report from private bank Cater Allen, issued last week, is anything to go by.

Self sufficient, cash-rich women are shunning marriage in their droves, with more than a quarter of females surveyed feeling able "to live a happy life" without a life partner. "It seems that not only are young women leaving home sooner, but they are less worried about getting married than men too," a spokesman says.

You don’t know poverty until you lose your jet

Whether it's shopping at Lidl rather than M&S, walking rather than driving, or cutting back on nights out, we are all economising at the moment. But spare a thought for one John Devaney, a US hedge fund manager. Poor old Devaney has had to sell his Gulfstream Jet, his helicopter and his yacht. And, of course, his Renoir. "I've taken as much pain as virtually anybody in this industry," Davaney is reported to have said. "I am bleeding personally."